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Week 16 game balls: Ryan Mallett, Johnny Manziel, Julio Jones among Sunday's stars

Each week NFL Nation team reporters award a game ball to a player, coach or unit. Here are the game balls for Week 16:


JETS 26, PATRIOTS 20 (OT) | ANALYSISVideo

Tom Brady. He orchestrated a fourth-quarter comeback to give the Patriots a chance to tie, working with limited weapons and connecting with tight end Rob Gronkowski on two fourth-down conversions. He finished 22-of-31 for 231 yards. -- Mike Reiss

Brandon Marshall. He caught eight passes for 115 yards and two touchdowns, setting the Jets’ record for most receptions in a season. He passed Al Toon’s mark (1988) with his first reception. Marshall has 100 catches, becoming the first player in NFL history with six 100-catch seasons. -- Rich Cimini


TEXANS 34, TITANS 6 | ANALYSISVideo

Brett Kern. He punted nine times for 427 yards, putting seven inside the 20-yard line. He also got roughed by Whitney Mercilus on a play the officials somehow missed. On a brutal day for the Titans, Kern was the only guy remotely qualified for the game ball. -- Paul Kuharsky

Kareem Jackson. He set the tone early with a forced fumble that Quintin Demps returned for the Texans’ first touchdown of the game. The Texans dominated every phase of the game, with the offense scoring 27 points and defense pitching a shutout until the second-half’s two-minute warning. -- Tania Ganguli


CHIEFS 17, BROWNS 13 | ANALYSISVideo

Johnny Manziel. His running changed the tone of the Browns' loss to Kansas City. Manziel's first scramble came late in the first half, and his running carried the offense on a 21-play drive in the second half. He finished with 108 yards on 11 carries and joined Marcus Mariota and Cam Newton as the only quarterbacks to run for 100 yards this season. -- Pat McManamon

Chairman Clark Hunt. He supported the general manager and coach when the Chiefs started season so poorly. He was rewarded with a playoff spot Sunday. -- Adam Teicher


COLTS 18, DOLPHINS 12 | ANALYSISVideo

Robert Mathis. The linebacker saved the Colts from being officially eliminated from the playoffs when he sacked Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill on fourth down at Indianapolis 14-yard line with 23 seconds remaining. The sack was the second of the game for Mathis and sixth of the game for the defense. -- Mike Wells

Jarvis Landry. The Dolphins receiver had seven receptions for 111 yards and he did it on a bad knee. Landry also became the first player in franchise history to record 100 receptions and 1,000 receiving yards in the same season. -- James Walker


LIONS 32, 49ERS 17 | ANALYSISVideo

DuJuan Harris. On the Baltimore Ravens practice squad on Monday, Harris, who has been with five teams this season and who was signed by the Niners on Tuesday, rushed for a career-high 73 yards on 11 carries. -- Paul Gutierrez

Matthew Stafford. He has thrived under offensive coordinator Jim Bob Cooter. Stafford completed 29 of 37 passes for 301 yards and two touchdowns. It is his fourth consecutive multi-touchdown game and yet another one in which he appeared in complete control of the Lions’ offense. -- Mike Rothstein


BILLS 16, COWBOYS 6 | ANALYSISVideo

Sean Lee. He bristled when it was suggested he sit out the last two games of the season with nothing to play for, saying, “I’ve missed enough games.” Snubbed from the Pro Bowl earlier in the week, Lee had 12 tackles, a half sack and two tackles for loss. -- Todd Archer

Sammy Watkins. It was a lackluster day for much of the Bills’ offense without LeSean McCoy, Charles Clay and Robert Woods. But Watkins mostly did his part, leading the team with five catches for 84 yards. He was flagged three times, including twice for offensive pass interference, but the second such penalty probably prevented an interception. -- Mike Rodak


BEARS 26, BUCCANEERS 21 | ANALYSISVideo

Harold Jones-Quartey. Back in the starting lineup for the first time since October, Jones-Quartey sparked the Bears’ defense with a forced fumble and interception. -- Jeff Dickerson

Charles Sims. The reserve running back came in and had an effective day. Sims had a 50-yard touchdown reception and also ripped off a 29-yard fourth-quarter run. Sims was the most explosive player on offense for Tampa Bay, rushing for 45 yards on four carries and catching three passes for 72 yards. -- Rick Brown


FALCONS 20, PANTHERS 13 | ANALYSISVideo

Graham Gano. He was Carolina’s best offensive weapon on a day the Panthers had little offense. He kicked two field goals, including a 47-yarder. -- David Newton

Julio Jones. He gets it for his 70-yard touchdown reception alone. He dominated his battles against Josh Norman and got close to 200 receiving yards against one of the league’s best defenses. He also surpassed his own team single-season record of 1,593 receiving yards. -- Vaughn McClure


RAVENS 20, STEELERS 17 | ANALYSISVideo

DeAngelo Williams. He was the lone bright spot for the Steelers, rushing for 100 yards on 17 carries along with two touchdowns. This is the first season since 2009 Williams has had multiple games of at least 100 yards and at least two touchdowns. -- Jeremy Fowler

Ryan Mallett. He didn't look like a quarterback who was starting his first game for the Ravens and who had been out of the league for two months. Mallett was accurate and decisive, completing 28 of 41 passes for 274 yards and one touchdown as double-digit underdog Baltimore upset AFC North rival Pittsburgh. He staked his claim to the Ravens' backup quarterback job in 2016. -- Jamison Hensley


SAINTS 38, JAGUARS 19 | ANALYSISVideo

Allen Robinson. He had his fifth 100-yard game of the season, catching six passes for 151 yards. One of those receptions was a 90-yard catch-and-run for a TD, the longest play from scrimmage in Jaguars history. It was a good way to show the rest of the NFL that he should have been in the Pro Bowl. -- Michael DiRocco

Drew Brees. He had one of his most dominant performances of the season despite tearing the plantar fascia in his right heel six days earlier. He threw for 412 yards and three touchdowns, including touchdowns on the Saints’ first two drives. -- Mike Triplett


RAMS 23, SEAHAWKS 17 | ANALYSISVideo

William Hayes. The Rams' defensive dominance was too much to ignore and Hayes was at the center of it all. He finished with nine tackles, three sacks, four tackles for loss and five quarterback hits to lead the Rams to the upset. -- Nick Wagoner

Doug Baldwin. They struggled to find a rhythm on offense for most of the game against the Rams, but Baldwin once again came up big with seven catches for 111 yards and a touchdown. Baldwin now has 14 touchdowns on the season, most in franchise history. He has scored 11 times in the past five games. -- Sheil Kapadia


CARDINALS 38, PACKERS 8 | ANALYSISVideo

Mike Daniels. The defensive tackle made one of the only big plays for the Packers, intercepting a Carson Palmer screen pass in the second quarter and returning it to the Cardinals’ 15-yard line. Of course, the Packers couldn’t turn that into any points. -- Rob Demovsky

The defense. The Arizona Cardinals defense had nine sacks, recovered three fumbles, intercepted one pass and scored two touchdowns in a rout of Green Bay. -- Josh Weinfuss


VIKINGS 49, GIANTS 17 | ANALYSISVideo

Robert Ayers. He had 1.5 sacks to raise his season total to eight, and he got three hits on Teddy Bridgewater. Since Jason Pierre-Paul returned to the lineup, Ayers’ season has taken off. He has five sacks in his past four games and is going to give the Giants reason to consider bringing him back as part of their rebuild of the pass rush. -- Dan Graziano

Harrison Smith. There were plenty of worthy candidates for the Vikings on Sunday night, but Smith gets the nod after bringing his 12th career interception back for his fourth career touchdown. His 35-yard return put the Vikings up 16-3, and after missing all but a handful of plays in the Vikings’ past three games, Smith provided a reminder of why he’s so valuable to the Vikings’ defense. -- Ben Goessling


BRONCOS 20, BENGALS 17, OT | ANALYSISVideo

A.J. Green. He gets the game ball for his five-catch, 57-yard, one-touchdown performance in Monday night’s game. His first-quarter touchdown reception featured some solid toe-dragging, as he pulled off a highlight reel-worthy play. -- Coley Harvey

Brock Osweiler. He led the Broncos on a 14-play, 61-yard drive to set up what would be Brandon McManus' 37-yard game-winning field goal. Osweiler finished 27-of-39 for 299 yards and a touchdown. -- Jeff Legwold